Sam Clemens' Odd Link With Halley's Comet
By James Donahue
Famed American author and humorist Samuel Clemens, best known by his pen name, Mark Twain, was born
in 1835 when Halley's Comet was lighting up the night sky. He died 75 years later, on April 21, 1910, when the comet was again
making its next pass through our solar system.
That a person would be born and live out his or her life during the time it takes a comet to make
its complete circling trip through the heavens is not that peculiar. What is somewhat strange about Clemens' death was that
he predicted it in his own writings.
He wrote in 1909, "I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect
to go out with it. The Almighty has said, no doubt: 'Now here are these two unaccountable freaks, they came in together, they
must go out together."
Just as he predicted, Clemens died as the comet was once again visible in the night sky,
Comets are among the mysteries of space that have perplexed us throughout history. It is not to be
unexpected that there has been a great deal of mysticism and esoteric mythology linked to their passing.
Among the most infamous contemporary event was the collective suicide of the Heavens Gate cult during
the appearance of the Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997. The cult leader, Marshall Applewhite and 38 followers were found dead in the
same house after they were convinced they were leaving Earth on a space ship riding into our solar system behind this comet.
Halley's Comet, which has been a regular visitor every 75 or 76 years, has often presented spectacular
aerial displays and thus has been among the best known of the comets. It was named after Edmund Halley who determined in the
18th Century that the appearances of several bright comets throughout history were the same object which was making a wide
elliptical orbit in and around the outer fringe of the solar system.
There is a Celtic myth linking the heroic characters Finn and CuChulinn to a comet. Some researchers
believe these characters are aspects of the ancient sky god Lugh, which was a comet. And what better suspect could we think
of than our own Halley's Comet?
Many cultures from ancient times and even today consider the appearance of a comet as a bad omen or
portents of impending disaster. Modern science finds a grain of truth in this thinking since comets have brought disaster
by colliding with the Earth. It could happen again.